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The Quest for Inclusion: From Bishop John Henry Hobart to Today
September 25, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
What does an inclusive church look like? How can the Church learn from its imperfect past to set a course for broad inclusivity that honors each of us as beloved children of God? These questions will be considered through the lens of Bishop John Henry Hobart’s legacy by expert panelists on Sunday, September 25, 2022, 3:00 pm, at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, on the occasion of the Bicentennial Celebration of the founding of Hobart College.
When Bishop Hobart sought to revive an Episcopal Church without finances, schools, or prestige in the post-Revolutionary War period, he embraced a “High Church theology” – the belief that religion does not demand the sacrifice of knowledge and science, or the pleasures and beauty of the world. These pursuits and joys – which other sects of Christianity were denouncing – were important elements of a vibrant humanity and a responsible citizenry. In short – the grace of God is available to all people, regardless of status, race or exercise of reason.
His inclusive theology led Hobart to consecrate the first chapel for a Native American congregation and found the first Black church in New York State. However, the bishop neither understood nor valued Native American institutions, and he eschewed secular politics and the debate over the abolition of slavery to avoid dividing Episcopalians.
Today, the first Black Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, calls for the cultivation of a Beloved Community, denouncing racism and sexism, and uplifting the diversity of humanity and all creation. Bishop Curry’s vision has the potential to manifest the unfulfilled promises of Bishop Hobart, the founder of his alma mater, Hobart College, as the college celebrates a milestone anniversary.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry is Honorary Chair of the Hobart College Bicentennial Committee and will deliver opening remarks at the September 25th event by video. The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, renowned church historian and retired Bishop of Western New York, the Rev. Dr. Craig Townsend, Historian-in-Residence for Racial Justice in the Diocese of Long Island, Michael Leroy Oberg, Distinguished Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo, the Rev. Nita Byrd, Chaplain and Dean for Spiritual Engagement at Hobart College, and the Rev. Patrick Cheng, visiting professor of Anglican studies at the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will explore Hobart’s legacy and how his efforts at inclusion fell short, but set a course for cultivating the Beloved Community in the Church, the nation, and beyond.
All are welcome to join in person or via livestream. Refreshments will follow the discussion.